Ellis Hamburger on Facebook's Friend Problem

Facebook originally seemed poised to upend Dunbar’s Number, a theory about how many people we can realistically be friends with, but Reed-Tsochas’ conclusion lends credence to the age-old wisdom that we can’t maintain very many friendships. His work is an indication that friendships are fluid, and that our social technology should understand that.

Facebook is the metaphor for friendship in this, the dawn of the Digital Age. It's far from a perfect metaphor, though. In its adolescence, the digital equivalent of friendship was either 1 (on) or 0 (off). As digital evolves, Facebook is trying to more closely mirror the nuance of human interaction by adding more fine-grain controls over its version of friendship.

But is it enough?

Our digital culture is never more fascinating than when it's inspected through the lens of our offline world, especially since that offline world is becoming increasingly known through breakthroughs in the social sciences. On The Verge, Ellis Hamburger does just that- and finds the digital metaphor lacking.

Facebook's Friend Problem ➝